Published on: Tuesday, April 19, 2022

The Supreme Court on Monday turned away an appeal from a death row inmate in Texas who said his jury had been tainted by racial bias (article available here).

The justices refused to hear the case of Kristopher Love, a Black man who was sentenced to death in Texas, after he objected to the seating of a juror who had said he believed “nonwhite races” to be the “more violent races.”

After considering the case at 10 consecutive conferences, the justices on Monday denied review.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented, in a seven-page opinion joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan. Stressing that “[r]acial bias is ‘odious in all respects,’ but ‘especially pernicious in the administration of justice,’” she wrote that she would have invalidated the ruling by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals – the state’s highest court for criminal cases – and sent the case back for “proper consideration.”

“When racial bias infects a jury in a capital case, it deprives a defendant of his right to an impartial tribunal in a life-or-death context.”